[MUD-Dev] code base inquiry

Matthew Mihaly diablo at best.com
Thu Feb 17 02:26:08 New Zealand Daylight Time 2000

On Mon, 17 Jan 2000, Richard Woolcock wrote:

> Matthew Mihaly wrote:
> > 
> > On Sat, 15 Jan 2000, Richard Woolcock wrote:
> > 
> > 
> > Easy money. Heh. You've either not created a lot of commercial text muds,
> > or you are incredibly competent and efficient.
> You're not listening to what I said.  What I said was that if there were no
> restrictions on codebases, those people who *wanted* to make some easy money
> could do so - as it stands right now, the restrictions ensure that people 
> either run the mud for no profit, or else have to put in a lot of work.

No, I'm listening, I just think you are very wrong. I really have no idea
what your definition of 'easy money' is, but if you honestly think that if
all the current free muds started charging, most of them would make money
(much less easy money) then I salute you for your extreme optimism.

> > It's most certainly not easy money, and if all free muds had commercial 
> > restrictions removed, it most certainly wouldn't be easy money for them 
> > either, particularly given that I don't see people paying to play 99% of 
> > the free muds, given the quality and same-ness of them.
> Just a point of note - the same-ness has nothing to do with whether or not
> the mud is free.  If you decided to release the code for your mud, in a few
> years time people would refer to it as being a "crappy stock code".

People refer to stock muds as crap because most free muds are crap. The
motivation is lacking for most people. If you'd read my other posts on
this thread, you'll know that I recognize there are some high quality
people who will create a high quality text mud and run it for
free. Generally however, this isn't the case. Money is, pretty clearly,
one of, if not the, best general motivator ever.
> Furthermore, the most innovative and unique mud designs I've ever seen have 
> not been for commercial muds.  I often wonder if the main reason that the
> owners of commercial muds strike out against free muds is down to jealousy - 
> that someone could (in their spare time) make something that is more 
> successful than something they themselves have put years of hard work into 
> commercially.

Can't say I share similar experiences, but I'm willing to grant that text
muds are able to do some things commercial muds can't. On the other hand,
commercial muds can do a lot of things text muds can't (such as support
large user bases. I don't know of any free mud that regularly gets over
500 players online at once. Everquest, on the other hand, gets 100x that
online at once.)

As for jealously, I, for one, am not at all jealous of the average mud,
which is garbage. I see nothing impressive about downloading content and
running it. Further, I really doubt that the big muds (and they are _all_
commercial) are spending a lot of nights crying over having captured the
interests and dollars of more people than will ever even hear of most free

I find it rather funny that you think that someone who downloads a stock
codebase and puts his or her sparetime into it is going to produce
something superior to, say, UO. Perhaps we have different standards of
quality, but I, for one, really like things like customer service, which
free muds are laughably poor at in general. 

> > As for the survival of those of us with commercial muds written from
> > scratch, I, for one, am a believer that a rising tide raises all
> > ships. See my reply to Caliban.
> As it stands, the majority of muds fight over who can get the most players.
> If all muds were based around the concept of making money then - quite
> obviously - that would be the same objective for everyone who wanted to 
> profit from their mud.

Right, so you run your mud with an eye towards driving away players,

> What about those muds - like my own - who's only objective is to be true
> to the vision of their creator?  Those muds who wish to be unique and
> original in such a specific way that they would only ever cater to a very 
> small niche of the mudding community?  Very little profit to be made there, 
> I'm afraid.

Not arguing that, and I have no problem with quality free muds. If you
want to cater to an audience of 100, go for it. Power to you.

> Personally I feel that if all muds started trying to become profit-making
> ventures, there would be no place for the truely unusual and unique muds.
> To attract the best distribution of players, your number one priority would 
> be to have all the "cool" features rather than those you personally felt 
> should be there.

I don't recall ever saying that all muds should be profit-making
ventures. 90% of muds demonstrate such a low level of seriousness that
they would just fall on their faces should they try to turn a profit. The
admins are either not competent or not serious enough. As for the best
distribution of players, go read the previous posts in this threat. UO/EQ
go for massive numbers of players, and low profit margins. We, on the
other hand, have low numbers of players (relatively speaking), and high
profit margins. Which is the better distribution of players? I'd rather be
me (though Raph and Mike and so on would probably disagree), because I
like doing what I want, and my distribution of players is thus better as
far as I'm concerned. EQ/UO/AC on the other hand would starve under my
model. It's not as if it's possible to haveone game with all the 'cool'
features. To some people, a cool feature is unrestricted PK'ing. To
others, a cool feature is no PK'ing. These are completely incompatible

> There is a certain freedom in creating a mud, knowing that you can never
> profit financially from it - and therefore never feeling that your designs 
> should be restricted by the opinions of others.  That is a freedom I'm not 
> sure I would want to give up.

Exactly how does anything I've said require that you give up that
freedom? If codebases had no commercial restrictions, nothing would stop
you from from running for free. If you can't attract any players in that
environment, then you have no business running a mud. My only reasoning
for thinking that codebases should remove commercial restrictions is that
money provides the best motivator, and that for a small commerical mud
entrepreneur, the worst time is the development time spent without any
players. Being able to have a basic mud up and ready to go right away
would be fantastic for this sort of person. Naturally no one is going to
pay for a paint-by-numbers mud, but you do, at least, have the ability to
start building a volunteer talent pool, etc. 


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